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UNIVERSITY OF MICHIGAN MEDIA CONFERENCE
September 8, 2008
THE MODERATOR: Question for Steven Threet.
Q. How many games do you think you went to at Notre Dame?
STEVEN THREET: I would probably say I've been to three Michigan/Notre Dame games in South Bend, then I think one other one I went to Notre Dame on a visit.
Q. Were you there as a Notre Dame fan?
STEVEN THREET: No, I was there as a Michigan fan.
Q. What are your impressions of the place, stadium?
STEVEN THREET: I know Notre Dame has a lot of tradition, just like we do. So I'm excited to finally be able to go there and play in the game.
Q. Memories from when you went to those games?
STEVEN THREET: Not really, not specific. Just watching. I remember I was there for Henig's first game, his freshman year there. Other than that, nothing.
Q. Did Michigan win?
STEVEN THREET: I'm actually not sure about that (laughter).
Q. You grew up as a Michigan fan. As a Michigan fan, describe what you look at when it comes to the Notre Dame rivalry? How do you view Notre Dame?
STEVEN THREET: You know, obviously Notre Dame is a rival. It's two of the most storied programs in the country. When it comes down to it, you start playing the game, it's 11 against 11, you're just playing football. You know the rivalry; it gets you ready for the game. You know you might prepare, be a little more conscientious in our preparations. But when it comes down to it, it's just a football game.
Q. Any advantage for you having spent a semester at Georgia Tech and seeing Coach Tenuta?
STEVEN THREET: You know, possibly. I'm sure he probably runs similar things. I was able to see a lot of the blitzes, the zone blitzes, whatnot, that he had. So I might be a little bit more familiar with it. But we'll get through film study in preparation for this week.
Q. How do you deal with those kind of blitzes, quick releases?
STEVEN THREET: We'll definitely have a game plan set up to try and emphasize our strengths, the way the defense is looking to attack us.
But, you know, when it comes down to it, we'll just have to wait for the game plan to see what the coaches want to do.
Q. What did you see from the film from last week?
STEVEN THREET: We left a few plays on the field, definitely throws that I think I should have made and I can make definitely. But, you know, plays that should have been made. But those are mistakes that just got to get corrected each week. Come out next week and make those plays.
Q. Do you see a specific reason for that, mechanics or anything like that?
STEVEN THREET: I mean, I guess so. It could be a specific reason. But it's small things that just need to get corrected throughout the week in practice. You know, sometimes it's a habit that shows up in the game when you're not thinking about it, just going out there playing.
Q. How are you going to prepare for the road game, that kind of atmosphere?
STEVEN THREET: You know, it is our first road game. I think the guys are excited about it, though, being able to play at Notre Dame. It's a good place. We'll see how it goes. I don't know if the coaches have anything special lined up for practice or whatnot, but...
STEVEN THREET: No. You know, I think coaches expect us every week to go out and compete against each other in practice and show we can perform in practice. You got to be able to perform in practice before you can go out and perform in a game. It's competition every day. You're looking to improve yourself.
Q. Nick compared coming in the way you guys are to being a relief pitcher in baseball. What is your mindset in terms of flipping that switch when it's necessary?
STEVEN THREET: I think Nick and I both do a good job of staying in the game, whether we're in taking the reps or on the sideline taking mental reps.
Yeah, I think the relief pitcher is a good way to put it. You still got to be in the game no matter what, no matter whether you are on the sideline. Next series you go in, you want to be familiar with what the defense is showing us.
Q. Is that important for you and Nick to prove that you can take this without getting frustrated by it?
STEVEN THREET: I don't know. We kind of just go with it. It's a coach's decision, who goes in when and for how long. Nick and I believe do a good job of just taking the reps we can get and trying to do the best we can with them.
Q. What was your impression of just Tenuta as a person or a personality?
STEVEN THREET: You know, he's intense. He definitely coaches those guys up on defense. He gets after them a little bit. But he's a good guy off the field, so...
Q. How you feeling body-wise? Good shape?
STEVEN THREET: Yep.
THE MODERATOR: Questions for Nick Sheridan now.
Q. Anything surprise you off the film from the game in terms of what you had in your head that had taken place?
NICK SHERIDAN: No, nothing really. You know, yeah, it was good to go back and watch the film, see what happened. Nothing really surprised me.
Q. Coach Rodriguez said you could least afford to have another guy down in the offensive line, and that happened. What goes through the other people that operate that line's mind in terms of picking it up?
NICK SHERIDAN: You know, Mike Ortmann, he's one of our best players, so it was disappointing to lose him. You don't really have time to think about it over the course of a game. You don't even really notice it.
Bryant Nowicki did a good job coming in there his first time seeing major action. I'm sure he was a little nervous. I thought he did a really nice job.
Like, I said, Mike Ortmann is a really great player and it's unfortunate we lost him Saturday. You don't really think about it over the course of a game.
Q. How much of the audition for the role takes place on Saturdays and how much do you think occurs in the week of practice?
NICK SHERIDAN: For the quarterback position?
NICK SHERIDAN: I think probably most of it is taking place on Saturday. But, you know, hopefully what's happened in practice, there's merit to that as well. Practice is important. But, you know, at the end, it comes down to who plays better on Saturday.
I think a large chunk of the decision is taking place on who performs better on Saturday. But practices are important as well.
Q. What is your impression of the Notre Dame defense, the blitzes?
NICK SHERIDAN: Yeah, they pressure a lot. You know, for a quarterback, might be a little bit easier than I would say offensive line because in the end, you know, no matter what kind of blitz they bring, if they fire zone, which is what they do most of the time, it ends up being the same coverage. So as a quarterback, you just kind of read the safeties, see what happened. But for linemen, they can bring all sorts of different combinations of blitzes from different angles, they can bring guys from both sides, guys from one side. Most of the time in fire zone they blitz five and drop eight -- excuse me, three deep, three under. For a quarterback, fire zone, fire zone. But for the line, as far as picking it up, seeing who's coming, that's probably the most difficult part, especially with Notre Dame.
Q. Has McGuffie been like a freshman plus in some areas? Is he a typical freshman? What has he done that's better?
NICK SHERIDAN: I don't know what a typical freshman is. I think he's played well for only being the second game. He's obviously been blessed with some physical ability. Goes out there and plays hard every Saturday.
In that sense I guess he's not a freshman. But he still makes some freshman mistakes. He knows that. But I've been very pleased with Sam so far.
Q. When you were at Notre Dame when your dad was coaching there, did you go to all the home games that season?
NICK SHERIDAN: Yep.
Q. What do you remember about the stadium, being there?
NICK SHERIDAN: Well, when my dad was there, we were like 5 and 6. It was pretty bad year for my family. I've been there since then when my dad was at Michigan as a visitor. It's always a lot louder when you're a visitor than when you're home. I'm sure the same, people will tell you, when you come to Michigan stadium. Yeah, it's a great environment, very storied program. It will be fun Saturday.
Q. What are the challenges going to be for you as a quarterback?
NICK SHERIDAN: Yeah, I'm sure it will be a little bit louder, a lot louder probably than what we're used to here at Michigan, especially when we're on offense. Most of the linemen can hear you no problem, as long as you project your voice. Probably communication will be a big deal for us, being our first road game. That will be an issue. But I'm sure we'll handle it all right.
Q. Does it help that you're friends for the whole competition thing?
NICK SHERIDAN: Yeah, I think I think it would be unfortunate if we were bitter rivals. We're very competitive and we both want to be starting quarterback. We want to play when it matters. But we have a good relationship. I think our relationship continues to grow. We room on the road trips, on Friday nights, stuff like that. So it's been good.
It would be unfortunate for the team if we didn't get along. It would just create some animosity in the locker room, that sort of thing. So, yeah, it's good that we're friends.
Q. Your roommates at home and at the hotel?
NICK SHERIDAN: We're not roommates at home. That was just for camp. Yeah, I live with Steve Schilling and another buddy of ours. When we travel, Friday nights, he's my roommate.
Q. How do you avoid not pressing when you're knowing I might be graded on this?
NICK SHERIDAN: You know you're going to be graded (laughter).
Q. But you don't want to press.
NICK SHERIDAN: Yeah, that's a good question. I think maybe in spring ball a little bit that was an issue for Steve and I. We both wanted to make plays. But you just want to execute the offense. I think the coaches understand that. You're not going to get marked down for making a safe decision if the tough decision was covered or that sort of thing.
Yeah, that can definitely be an issue if you're trying to press too much. But normally when you're trying to do that, bad things happen. So try to stay away from that sort of thing.
Q. How much of the offense do you think you've implemented so far?
NICK SHERIDAN: I don't know. That's a good question. You'd have to ask Coach Rodriguez how much offense he's put in. As far as for Steve and I, the other quarterbacks, Dave, like the offense is not super complicated as far as terminology or concepts. But the philosophy is a little bit different. Well, it's a lot different from what we're used to. That's the most difficult part. That's probably why we struggled a little bit the first couple games.
We'll continue to get better. We're just practicing hard, trying to get that corrected.
THE MODERATOR: Questions for Morgan Trent.
Q. Morgan, the plays that Notre Dame hit on Saturday were mostly in the passing game. What kind of challenge do you see coming this week?
MORGAN TRENT: It's a great challenge for us. They've got some good receivers, which we know. They're capable of making some big plays. That's something we'll talk about all week on defense, especially in our role in the secondary, they're capable of going the distance. We definitely have to be ready.
Q. Is Jimmy Clausen a different quarterback than he was when you saw him last year?
MORGAN TRENT: I'm sure he is. I'll tell you more after Saturday. I'm sure he is. That's a big year from freshman to sophomore year. It's tough to come in your freshman year and play like you want to. I'm sure he's learned a lot. I'm sure he's gotten a lot better, as well. No question.
Q. After what happened last year against them, you're obviously on the good end of that, what do you expect from Notre Dame?
MORGAN TRENT: You always expect a great game. Regardless of a record or whatever, you expect a great game. They're going to be a good team. It's going to be a great game for us because it's our first away game. Going up to their place, they're going to be excited about it. We're definitely going to be excited as well. Playing up there, the great rivalry we have, you expect a great game.
Q. Stevie will have more responsibility. How do you see him grow into it?
MORGAN TRENT: He's going to grow. He's going to continue to get better each week. He's an older guy, but has yet to have a lot of game experience. He's kind of learning on the field, like a lot of us have done in the past. Each week he's going to get better, there's no question. He's gotten better from the first week to the second week. We could all see that. We've got tremendous confidence in him. He's going to be fine.
Q. Anything you can do to bring him along or does it have to be a personal thing?
MORGAN TRENT: Just take care of the receivers on my side. Let him concentrate on what he needs to concentrate on. If he can do what he needs to do, we can take -- the corners can take care of our responsibility, we'll be all right.
Q. What is it like playing at Notre Dame stadium?
MORGAN TRENT: I only have one memory, and it was one of the greatest memories I have, when I was six, going up there. We played an excellent game. I would love to keep my memories just like that one. I enjoyed going up there.
Q. Do you worry about the younger guys getting caught up with the mystique of playing there?
MORGAN TRENT: Not too much. I'm sure it can happen. But it's something we'll talk about a little bit this week. It's our first road game. Some of these younger guys haven't been the road, really know what it's really like. It will be new for a few of them, but I'm sure they'll be fine.
Q. What can you tell the younger guys?
MORGAN TRENT: Just to set the example, to show these guys how we travel. First of all, it's a business trip. We're here to handle business first and foremost. So kind of show these younger guys how we do it, how much Michigan does it.
Q. The younger guys, Michigan/Notre Dame rivalry, the seniors will tell them about that?
MORGAN TRENT: If they came to Michigan, I hope they know something about it. Of course, we'll talk about it this week, what exactly that means. I'm sure by the end of the week they'll have a great idea of what's coming on Saturday.
Q. This rivalry is different from the Michigan State/Ohio State rivalry, isn't it?
MORGAN TRENT: It is. It's still a rivalry, of course. It's a little different. Got a little different element. It's a great game that we love to play. I look forward to this game. Been looking forward to it. You love playing this game.
Q. Did you see much of the game Saturday?
MORGAN TRENT: Not really. I didn't see too much. Saw a little bit. Few highlights here and there. I'll do that in a few minutes. I haven't just watched it at all.
Q. Did you do a double take when you saw the score?
MORGAN TRENT: Yeah, I didn't know what to expect. I didn't know what to expect from either side. But Notre Dame won. I guess I could expect that. See what happened on the film.
Q. What's the different element? You said Notre Dame has a different element. What is that?
MORGAN TRENT: I can't pinpoint it. It's just different from Michigan State and Ohio State. It's a different feeling. I don't want to go too far into it without saying anything I shouldn't. It's just different, it really is. We respect them. We look forward to playing them. It's a fun game.
Q. Did you see that Charlie Weis video?
MORGAN TRENT: I didn't see the video. I saw the press clippings. I saw what he said.
Q. Make much of it?
MORGAN TRENT: Whatever.
Q. Morgan, how would you grade the defense? Has it lived up to being the strength?
MORGAN TRENT: If I could grade us the last six quarters we played, I would say we played great, like we should be playing. Unfortunately, that first half of the game we played against Utah, we weren't up to par what we should have been playing. This last game I think we played better.
We're still not there yet. We're still working. We'll get there. But overall I'm happy just going off our last game's performance.
Q. (Question regarding the offensive package.)
MORGAN TRENT: You can, yeah, definitely. Of course, we all know the younger guys, they're getting better each week. They're learning the system. They're learning on the field as well. I definitely think they're improving.
THE MODERATOR: We have senior defensive end Tim Jamison.
Q. Tim, what do you remember about the last game? Defensive line ate them up. How do you do the same thing again this year?
TIM JAMISON: Well, we're excited about this rivalry. This is one of Michigan's biggest rivals. We just want to take the game plan and get after it.
Q. Growing up where you did, probably a lot of Notre Dame fans. Did they bark at you a little bit this week?
TIM JAMISON: No. Where I'm from, they're Michigan fans. They support me. Notre Dame does have a big impact over there where I'm from, but my family still supports me and they're big Michigan fans.
Q. What do you think their quarterback will understand this year that maybe he didn't last year going against your defense?
TIM JAMISON: Last year he was a freshman, new. Plus it was an away, hostile environment. I think he'll feel more comfortable, feel more experienced. I think he'll be a much better quarterback.
Q. Six pretty good quarters in a row for the defense. Do you think there's still room for improvement?
TIM JAMISON: Oh, there's always room for improvement. Just like yesterday, Coach Tall was like, Man, I should be happy right now, but I'm not, saying we made a lot of mistakes yesterday. So we're going to look to improve it this week.
Q. What specific mistakes did you make?
TIM JAMISON: It's the little things. You know, somebody not going through the right gap. He wants consistency. We wasn't consistent for the last game. We look to improve that, get hyped up for this game.
Q. On the film, as a defense on the whole, are you seeing big plays that could be made?
TIM JAMISON: Yeah. I mean, it was a big improvement from last week, but still a lot of corrections we got to make if we want to achieve our goals.
Q. This defense, do you feel you get a sense you're getting stronger as the game goes along?
TIM JAMISON: Yeah, I feel we got a lot of people playing for the first time. As the weeks go on, they lean on the leadership of the whole team. I feel like each rep they're getting more veteran, more experience.
Q. With the different linebackers, did that change what you wanted to do from week one to week two, or the same game plan?
TIM JAMISON: Same game plan. Same game plan.
Q. This Sunday a little easier in terms of the way coaches treated you compared to last Sunday?
TIM JAMISON: Yeah, they was a lot more laid back than they was last week (laughter). We still practiced hard. But we want them to constantly be on us.
Q. Did you get to see much of Notre Dame play on Saturday? What did you think, if so?
TIM JAMISON: I have not got a chance to watch them on film yet. I'll watch film later on this afternoon. Watch a lot of game tape, see their plays, protections, stuff like that.
Q. What can you tell your younger teammates about playing in South Bend?
TIM JAMISON: I don't have to tell them much. They already know. That's probably why they came to Michigan. Michigan/Notre Dame, that it is a great rivalry. Really doesn't matter what the records say. That all goes out the window. They're already juiced up. Can't juice them up any more.
Q. How do they rank in terms of hostility, compared to East Lansing, Columbus?
TIM JAMISON: I say they rank in the top, just because it's Michigan/Notre Dame. The fans always gonna be hyped for that game. So it's gonna be pretty loud.
THE MODERATOR: We have Stevie Brown.
Q. Talk about the defense's improvement in your mind from week one to week two.
STEVIE BROWN: I thought we came out there and played better for all four quarters. There's still some improvements we need to make. I think overall from week one to week two we made pretty good strides in playing all four quarters.
Q. In terms of improvements, what was the biggest thing you'd still like to see?
STEVIE BROWN: We still gave up a couple big pass plays. We want to take those down. I mean, we want to stop them a little bit better on first down. We have this thing called the (indiscernible) intimidation that we want to stop people to keep them under three yards on the first down. We still stopping them about 62% of time, but we still want to see that number go up. That's what we want to do.
Q. This is your second or third start. What do you like about the way you played so far? Where do you think you need to get better?
STEVIE BROWN: I mean, I'm getting around the ball, being able to get in a lot of tackles, being around the ball a lot. So I like that. But at the same time I need to catch these interceptions that I keep dropping. I need to get better on the angles. I keep saying that. I just need to transfer my eyes better, get to the man, get to the angles better so I can make more plays that way as well.
Q. What happened on that interception?
STEVIE BROWN: Well, I saw it. It was so easy, I wasn't even paying attention to the ball. I just ended up letting it go through my hands.
Q. How badly does the defense need those turnovers?
STEVIE BROWN: We're gonna need those. Coming up Notre Dame, getting into Big-10, every opportunity you get to get the ball back, get opportunities to score, you need 'em. Can't be letting things like that go away.
Q. What do you know now by playing that nobody could explain to you beforehand?
STEVIE BROWN: I mean, when people tell you the game speed, you can watch a lot of film, you can tell that it's faster than when you were in high school. You can watch on the sideline and tell that everybody's moving a lot faster. But until you actually get in the game, you don't realize how quick everything happens. You can simulate it in practice, but it's never really the same. Being actually out there on the field, actually having to think about what's going on, seeing it, reacting to it, it's a lot faster than anything you could ever just watch or simulate in practice.
Q. Coach talked about recognition, things you're still picking up. How do you pick up the recognition part of going against an offense?
STEVIE BROWN: I mean, that comes from film work and studying your playbook. I mean, whenever you see a certain formation, people come out in certain formations, certain tendencies, that clicks and registers right there. Just need a little more film work with that, study the playbook a little bit better. So whenever I see it on the field, I can be ready to be on top of it right then and there.
Q. There was a time one of their receivers got behind everybody. That was one of the five drops they had. What happened on that play? What was said to the safeties after that?
STEVIE BROWN: I think I know which one you're talking about. With Morgan or Donovan?
Q. The middle of the field.
STEVIE BROWN: That was the one with Donovan. We was actually -- we wasn't even on the safeties right there. It was just bad technique. We was just trying to rally to the ball. That wasn't necessarily on us. I mean, we still got to get back there, so...
Q. Do you know anybody on the Notre Dame team?
STEVIE BROWN: Yeah. Actually, surprisingly, I know a lot of people on the Notre Dame team.
Q. Who are a couple of guys?
STEVIE BROWN: Luke Schmidt. My best friend that goes to Iowa is his cousin. He was playing fullback there, but now he's playing tight end. I was just talking to him the other day. James Aldridge, Raeshon McNeil, Darrin Walls. I know a few people on the team.
Q. Will you have family members at the game?
STEVIE BROWN: Probably have a lot of friends at the game. Hard to get a lot of tickets for the Notre Dame game. Big rivalry game. There's still a lot of people from my hometown that just love Notre Dame so they keep season tickets. I'm pretty sure I'll see a lot of them there.
Q. Your friends, cheering for Notre Dame?
STEVIE BROWN: They say they're going to root for me, but they still want Notre Dame to win, so...
Q. Did you travel two years ago? What do you remember?
STEVIE BROWN: I mean, it was a great experience whenever I got to travel over there a couple years ago. I had been to the Notre Dame/Michigan game I want to say it was my junior year in high school. I knew the atmosphere going in a little bit. Actually being on the field and everything like that, that was a lot of fun, as well. Notre Dame/Michigan, doesn't get any bigger than that in Indiana. Growing up, actually watching the game all the time, to finally be able to participate in it, it was a lot of fun. I learned a lot. I'm sure I'll learn more this trip.
Q. Do you have any friends who have contacted you in the last two days? Do you expect to hear a lot from home?
STEVIE BROWN: I haven't had anybody yet. I'm pretty sure it's going to be coming, though. Every time that game comes up, a lot of people always start hitting me up, so...
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